Direct flights linking Sabah's capital to Beijing, China will commence in January and are set to bolster the state's tourism sector.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the new air link is expected to begin on January 16, and noted that China was already one of the state's biggest source of visitors.
"But the direct flight from China will be a game changer. There will be an opportunity to improve on the quality of tourists as we can tap into the rich Northern Chinese market from Beijing" he said at his ministry's Christmas celebration here today.
He added that details were being finalised and the necessary paperwork being prepared for Xiamen Air to begin flying the route.
Sabah is additionally expected to add at least three more Chinese cities - Changsha, Tianjin and Guangzhou - to its air connectivity network next year.
Masidi also announced today that Indonesia-based airline, Batik Air, will commence direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Jakarta beginning tomorrow, December 20.
"This is good news for us, not just for the tourism industry but also speaks volumes about their faith in us and how stable we are as a state" he said.
AirAsia previously had direct flights running the route, but these were cancelled.